By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The German government in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Monday donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
At a ceremony held at the NCS headquarters in Abuja, the duo handed over face masks, hand gloves, and hand sanitisers to top officials of the service.
Speaking on behalf of the German government, Mr Bernt-Michael Gelpke said the items were donated to show the government’s commitment to ensuring proper border management in the past couple of years.
According to him, the donation, which is coming through the GIZ, an institution of the German government, is part of efforts to strengthen relations between both countries and entire Africa.
“The Federal Republic of Germany has long-standing relations with the African Union, with ECOWAS, and has been active in the area of border management for quite some time.
“Since 2007, we have been implementing the border management programme through our partner GIZ and the support we are witnessing today is also coming from that programme.
“Border management is very important to our foreign policy and also to ECOWAS.
“So we are working with the African Union and also ECOWAS which is of pivotal importance.
“Out of the 20 countries that we are supporting in this initiative, 10 countries are within the ECOWAS sub-region,” he said.
He stressed the importance for countries to remain vigilant as many of them were currently experiencing a second wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
He added that Germany was a clear example as the country sets to begin another phase of lockdown.
“Your customs officials are at the forefront and when it comes to the pandemic they are doing an important duty, manning the border posts, dealing with imports and exports of goods and they are faced with challenges each day.
“It is for these reasons that the Federal Republic of Germany has decided to proceed with this handover ceremony to make available some personal protective equipment particularly for those officers that man the border posts.
“The materials being handed over by the government of Germany today are, 8,700 face masks made with cotton fabrics, more than 16,000 disposable latex hand gloves, and 150,000 litres of hand sanitiser.
“We are presenting these together with the ECOWAS Commission and I believe that they will play an important part in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of customs officers,” he added.
Speaking, Mr Tei Konzi, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, expressed ECOWAS’ gratitude to Nigeria for the support during the pandemic.
He recalled that the Heads of State of ECOWAS had designated President Muhammadu Buhari as the champion in the fight against COVID-19.
“In the fight against the pandemic, I would like to pay homage to our development partners, the Federal Republic of Germany, GIZ, the EU, and all others who have contributed to our fight against the pandemic,” he said.
The Controller General of NCS, retired Col. Hameed Ali, represented by Deputy Controller General in charge of Human Resources, Abdullahi Babani, thanked the German government for the donation.
Ali expressed delight at the visit of ECOWAS and the GIZ, noting that NCS had enjoyed a long-standing relationship with both partners.
“The donation of these materials has come at the right time.
“This is the time when customs officials will come into contact with all manner of people and consignments and we need to protect the officers,” he said. (NAN)